Aleks Vasilev, from Cezars Kitchen, is our School’s Assistant Kitchen Manager! He is originally from Macedonia and has been living 12 years in Japan. Who didn’t dream about traveling and seeing world? He wasn’t the exception so he worked around Europe and traveled around Asia before ending up in Tokyo. Get to know more about Mr. Vasilev!
Where are you from?
I am from Macedonia, which is located at south east Europe. We have Bulgaria and Greece as neighbors.
Since when are you living in Japan?
It has been already 12 years in Japan. My fist station was Matsumoto, in Nagano. I moved then to Tokyo because of my friends. By that time, I was still in my late twenties.
What brought you to Japan?
I wasn’t actively planing to come and live in Japan one day. When I was a kid, my dream was to travel, so I did that in Europe. I lived in England, France, Spain… I have also visited several countries in Europe and decided to go to the next step, Asia. At the beginning I was thinking more in Thailand, India or China but a friend of mine proposed Japan so, why not? As an exchange student I ended up in Matsumoto. After 3 years in Japan, you get use to it, it becomes your second home and I decided to stay.
What do you like most of living here?
I still don’t know Tokyo, it’s so big! I really like the area where I live. I like that the atmosphere is quite and peaceful. I lived before in Roppongi for 3 or 4 years. When you are young it’s ok but now I am not young anymore (laughs) Here, you have more space and freedom.
How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time with the family. I help with the duties at house, I spent time with my wife and my children. If I had time for myself, I would do more sports, go cycling, listen to music, watch movies… Now I am doing gardening as well at my house.
Have you lived or worked in other countries as well?
I worked in England in Hilton High Park Hotel in London and other places for 3, 4 years. Also in Greece I have worked for many hotels, where it’s all about hospitality. I cooked different in different countries. Greece has Italian, Morocco and Mediterranean influences, England has French influences and here in A-JIS we do a lot of asian cooking.
What do you feel most proud of?
My kids, that’s the best thing in life. Thats the sweetest thing, I don’t know when they grow up (laughs). Also, I am satisfied because I try to make the best of everyday, be happy with what I do, enjoy my work.
What age do you feel right now and why?
I feel like I become 30 or something. When I was becoming 30, I felt not very different from 20s, and you realize its like that you don’t suddenly become wiser. You just have more experiences, make less mistakes, take your life easier.
Since when are you working in the kitchen?
Since I was 19 or 20.
Why did you choose this profession?
Everybody like food and it’s important for everybody’s life. Food is a basic need and you can’t go wrong. People want to eat. I guess I have chosen this profession because it gives you a good balance, mental and physical: you cut, you cook, you think, you talk… it’s not only sitting down. I like that movement in the kitchen and cooking is a passion. Before, I worked in restaurants and now in a school, it’s so different! My uncle, my mother and one of my dearest friends are chefs, probably I got indirectly influenced by them.
How were your first steps in this field?
My first steps were in Greece, where I began to work in a hotel. It was the first time I worked in the kitchen… they gave me a big bag of potatoes and I had to peel them. So I took a chair and sat there peeling the potatoes and the chef said “quicker!”. The first steps are like that because you don’t now how to cook at the beginning. Yes, you go to school and learn about the hygiene, etc. but you actually have to learn from everybody in the kitchen, especially with the chefs. So the more restaurants you go to work at, the more experience you got.
What are your strengths in the kitchen?
My strength is to cook good tasting dishes. That’s my goal and that’s what I do. Everything else is side work. I make quality and tasty food with a smile because when you are happy, they will notice it when they eat the food.
Which is your role in Cezar’s kitchen? What are your duties?
My role is assistant manager, which means same responsibilities as the kitchen manager but less headache.
Why do you enjoy working at Aoba?
Teachers are very friendly and nice, he environment is relaxed and the surroundings are beautiful!